Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 29.10.2017
Russia sent the 70th truck convoy of war matériel across the Ukraine-Russia international border into the Russia-occupied zone of eastern Ukraine on October 27. Russia puts white coverings on the trucks and signage saying they are “humanitarian aid” for the people of Donbas. The trucks are not inspected by any international humanitarian organization, though, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (the ICRC). Nor are they inspected by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission (the OSCE SMM) for Ukraine. Nor are they inspected by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. The so-called “humanitarian convoys” are widely believed to contain matériel for Putin’s invasion army in Donbas, which consists of the 1st Army Corps (so-called “DPR” or Donetsk) and the 2nd Army Corps (so-called “LPR” or Luhansk). Open source intelligence has observed the white-covered trucks driven to Russian armed forces depots in Luhansk city, matériel transferred to green army trucks, which are driven to front-line units of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps. It is no accident that an uptick in shelling by the Russian armed forces usually follows the arrival of the fake “humanitarian convoys.”
With the truck convoys, Russia sends war matériel into Ukraine to its invasion army and sends the bodies of its dead – called “Cargo 200” – out of Ukraine. Russia uses trains also, but in that case it is war matériel in and stolen coal out of Ukraine. After the second Minsk Agreement was signed (and in complete violation of its terms) Russia assaulted the city of Debaltseve, a rail junction, to secure the transportation of war matériel to and between the 1st and 2nd Army Corps.
Sending war matériel across an international border to support an invasion army is a clear act of war. The first Russian truck convoy in August 2014 was given international attention, when the ICRC and the State Border Guard Service was blocked from inspecting the cargo. Instead of backing down, Russia repeated its transgression over and over again – 70 times more, to date – and the light of international attention went out. The effect of Western inattention and appeasement is that the Russian invaders of Europe in Ukraine have limitless weapons, ammunition, fuel and supplies. The phrase “humanitarian convoy” means only one thing to Ukrainians: death and destruction.
The West is being attacked by Russia, but other than Ukraine it chooses to do nothing to actually enforce the Minsk Agreements and the Budapest Memorandum. The Minsk Agreements oblige Russia to allow the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine and the OSCE SMM to have access to all of the international border, yet the Russians block access to over 400 kilometres of the frontier between Rostov region in Russia and Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine. Minsk also requires that the unarmed OSCE SMM monitors be able to inspect any and all facilities in the area of conflict, yet gunmen calling themselves “DPR” or “LPR” routinely threaten the monitors. Minsk requires that “the sides” withdraw heavy weapons from the “line of contact” yet Russia shells Ukrainian defenders and civilians with banned heavy weaponry every day and night. The Budapest Memorandum is a solemn promise by Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, yet Russia has invaded Ukraine and illegally occupies Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Telling Russia it must stop its aggression and respect agreements, for over three and a half years now, simply isn’t working. Putin at war will never stop until he is stopped. The war matériel convoys have to be stopped. The international border must be secured for Ukraine. The OSCE SMM mustn’t be hindered from going anywhere and everywhere in Ukraine, especially all the territory of Crimea and Donbas. The heavy weaponry of the Russians must be stopped from killing Ukrainians. The illegal armed formations must be broken up. Most of all, the Russian invaders have to go home.